Harvesting rainwater saves the day for residents of a tribal village in Jharkhand
Water-strapped residents of Bara Gobindpur in Jharkhand turned to rainwater harvesting a decade ago and today, their village faces no water shortage, not even in the gruelling summers.
Manoj Choudhary 31 May 2023 12:54 PM GMT
Bara Gobindpur (East Singhbhum), Jharkhand
Harvesting every drop of rainwater that falls on their village has brought great relief to the inhabitants of Bara Gobindpur.
Come summer and the residents from the three wards of the tribal village in Khakdipara panchayat of East Singhbhum district do not have to worry about water shortage as they have been harvesting the runoff for about a decade now. Even in the peak summer season, the village’s drinking water sources do not go dry.
“It was not always like this,” Devki Murmu, resident of ward number 7 of Bara Gobindpur village, told Gaon Connection. “Our village had a couple of hand-pumps and the wells were the primary source of water in the village. Summers brought huge water scarcity for us,” she recalled.
“Two rivulets, Mahadev Nala and Lovbhanga Nala, were the other source of water, but they were highly polluted due to the release of industrial effluents into them,” Devki said.
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The water-strapped inhabitants of Bara Gobindpur approached the non-profit Tata Steel Rural Development Society (TSRDS) for help, and TSRDS set up the village's first water harvesting mechanism.
“TSRDS showed us how to harvest and store the runoff rainwater from the roofs of our homes,” Ram Chandra Soren of ward No 6 told Gaon Connection.
The inhabitants were shown how the rain water from their roofs could be released through a pipe called dongi, into a small pit dug beside the house. These pits were then interconnected through an underground pipe that eventually released the water into a nearby well that was anything up to 50 feet in depth, Soren explained.
Just by harvesting rainwater from the runoff from the roofs, the water situation in the village has improved with an increase in groundwater levels.
“The wells and hand pumps no longer run dry in summers because of the rainwater harvesting we do. We get water from them throughout the year, and we do not have to look elsewhere to find water,” Soren said.
Hand-pumps and wells, situated up to a radius of 200 feet of the water recharge well (where rainwater is stored) have water all year through, inform the villagers.
Rain water harvesting
“TSRDS installed the rain water harvesting mechanism in 75 houses in three wards of Ward No 5, 6 and 7 in Bara Gobindpuur in 2013-14, and thanks to that nearly 150 households are benefiting,” said Devki Murmu. Those homes having old wells nearby were chosen for the water-harvesting project.
“Before rainwater harvesting, the water would just drain away into the open fields or roads and be of no use to us,” she said.
According to Murmu, the local residents, the gram pradhan and panchayat representatives contributed to maintain the rain water harvesting systems. “There are altogether eight wards under Khakripada panchayat and residents of the other five wards should also have this facility. Industries should come forward like TSRDS did and help the villagers. The government should implement this throughout Jharkhand to maintain soil water level and preserve rain water from getting wasted,” Murmu said.
Krishna Hembrom, the pradhan of Khakdipara panchayat, said that altogether eight wards come under his panchayat with about 400 families. Five of these wards come under Bara Govindpur village, and three in Khakripara village.
“Five years ago, the state government constructed three solar based water tanks called Jal Minar in the other two wards of Bara Gobindpur, to help them overcome water problems,” the pradhan told Gaon Connection.
“In 2016, the Jharkhand government started a rain water harvesting project. Dobha or ponds were dug across the state. These did preserve rainwater and villagers used it for domestic and agriculture purposes. But lack of proper maintenance led to them becoming useless,” said Krishna Hembrom.
“But the residents of Bara Gobindpur have shown how it can improve the water situation and all other villages should follow rainwater harvesting,” the pradhan added.
No more dependent on polluted rivers
Though there are two rivers that flow near Bara Gobindur, Gadhda and adjacent villages, the waters of Mahadev Nala and Lovbhanga Nala rivers are not fit to use. Industrial units are dumping their effluents into the rivers, complain villagers.
“There was a time when children would bathe at the confluence of these rivers, and their water was potable. People could use it for irrigation and for their cattle,” Rakesh Hembrom, a resident of Gadhda village told Gaon Connection. “Not any more. The water can’t be used to even irrigate our fields. The polluted river water damages the land’s productivity and kills the minerals in the soil that are needed for a healthy crop,” he added.
Rainwater harvesting has stopped dependency on using the polluted waters of the rivers. People now get clean water from wells and hand-pumps, and rainwater harvesting is the best way to recharge the groundwater, said Rakesh Hembrom.